NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - It’s a must-win game for the Yankees on Tuesday night. There’s really no other way to put it.
Currently down 2-0 in the American League Championship Series to the Detroit Tigers, the Yankees’ lifeless bats are set to face arguably the best pitcher in baseball, Justin Verlander, in Detroit.
Opposing him is Phil Hughes, who was brilliant in his previous postseason start against the Orioles in Game 4 of the American League Division Series. In the Yankees’ crushing loss, the right-hander allowed one run on four hits in 6 2/3 superb innings, striking out eight and walking three.
But now, with the Yankees looking to avoid the dreaded 3-0 hole, Hughes has the challenge of a lifetime awaiting him.
“There’s always questions that come with every start, and I don’t really feel like I can feel any added pressure just because of the circumstances,” Hughes said. “I just have to go out there and pitch, that’s all it boils down to. (I can’t) really worry about being down 0-2 or that Verlander is on the mound or that we don’t have our captain. Those sorts of things are going to be wasted energy, and all I really want to focus on is the Detroit Tigers’ lineup and doing the absolute best job I can do.”
Hughes started against the Tigers twice this season — both at Comerica Park — and split the two games, posting a respectable 3.38 ERA. In his career against the Tigers, the 2010 All-Star has gone 5-4 with a 4.22 ERA in 10 appearances, eight of which were starts.
With the way the Yankees are currently playing, the 27-time World Series champions have instantly become underdogs. But Hughes feels that his team is still very much in this series.
“This is what it’s all about,” Hughes told Yankees.com. “You don’t want to lose both games at home, but we still have a chance. We still have a chance to do this. We just have to take one game at a time.”
In the end, though, all Hughes can do is go out there and give his team a chance to win, as he did in the last series against Baltimore.
“I’ll just throw the best game I can and trust that our guys are going to score some runs,” Hughes said. “And obviously Verlander is a great pitcher, but he is human, and we know we can score off him. I just have to do a better job than he does. It’s going to be a challenge. But like I said, I’m looking forward to it.”
Hughes had an up-and-down campaign for the Bombers in 2012, going 16-13 with a 4.23 ERA and 165 strikeouts in 32 starts.
Yes, we all know that the bats must get going. But will Hughes keep New York in the game for the second straight time? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…